Playing Cambodia: CHILD SEX SLAVERY (1of2)

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April 16, 2007
When Dalyn was only 12 years old, she was tricked and forced into prostitution. Locked in a cage with others underneath the brothel, she was starved, beaten and threatened at gun point until she agreed to service clients. International Amnesty should take a look at police chief Hok Lundy and his police thugs. It is shameful that Cambodia has to bare the face for selling young girls while Vietnamese are running the brothels.

The issue of trafficking of women and children receives increased attention in the public and the mass media. Confronted with the complexity of the problem and under the shock of sometimes cruel individual stories of victims, one is tempted to concentrate almost exclusively on the criminal aspects of the trade and on the issue of rescuing victims.

Many of Yuon girls always sell their beautiful bodies to foreigners to raise their families who are still living in both Cambodia and Vietnam in miserable poverty. In Srok Yuon, it's hard for them to do this dirty business, for there is no freedom at all, is being run wickedly by its Yuon leaders who are the worst murderous violators of human rights on earth.

TRAFFICKING IN VIRGINS

According to the report on sexual exploitation and trafficking in Cambodia, child prostitutes (under 18 years old) constitute about 15.5 percent of the total number of prostitutes in Cambodia. In the youngest age group, that is from 9 to 15 years old, about three-quarters were reported to be Vietnamese. Although we did not encounter cases of girls under 13 years old in this survey, child prostitution is definitely part of the commercial sex business in Cambodia. The very young girls are worth a lot of money as virgins. Deflowering a young girl is, among some (especially Chinese) groups, believed to have a rejuvenating effect on men. The word used in this context is derived from the Vietnamese word 'khui'. Literally, khui means to open a bottle, to uncork or to make a hole. The term khui is also used figuratively to describe having sex with a girl or woman who is still a virgin. Some men even use the term in the meaning of having sex with a woman, without especially referring to her virgin or non-virgin status. However, women or girls who have had sex already are worth a lot less in the sex business. The first time they can receive $200 to $1,000, depending on the age and beauty of the girl. The second time, she is worth already a lot less, after which her 'value' diminishes even further. These girls or women are so-called khui haey or kouc haey [deflowered already] and therefore have lost their special 'value'. The idea prevails that especially Vietnamese girls are sold to be khui-ed, as a meebon in Svay Rieng commented:

"The Vietnamese people don't mind about virginity. They don't care about their daughter losing virginity. They are glad that their daughter can earn much money..."

For the very young girls, being forced to be khui-ed is often a traumatic experience. They usually do not know what awaits them. A Vietnamese girl, who lived with her mother next to Svay Pak, was brought to a brothel when she was 14 years old. She remembers:

"My mother sold me for the first khui for $500. I did not know what to do, but she told me I had to stay in that place for four to ten days and that she would bring me back home afterwards. Then the meebon ordered me to sleep with a guest. I hurt so much. I cried, I had heavy bleedings. I was so afraid."

The bleeding after deflowering is an important sign of virginity of the girl for the meebon and especially the client. In some cases, the meebon will have a doctor do a check-up in order to see whether a new-brought girl is still a virgin. A Vietnamese girl who was 15 years old when she was brought to a brothel was checked by a doctor and declared not to be a virgin. This was not because she had had sex before, but according to the doctor, possibly because she rode a bicycle. Therefore, the meebon put the girl among the "ordinary place" and not among the virgins. A client, who agrees with the meebon to pay a high price for deflowering a virgin girl, expects the virgin girl to bleed. If not, the client will refuse paying anything at all. A 16-year-old Cambodian-born Vietnamese girl interviewed in a shelter recounted how she 'devaluated' after the meebon found out that she was not khui:

"At that time we were very poor. Everyone looked down on us, even my sister. My mother told me to try to earn money, so that we did not need to be ashamed with our neighbours who had a lot of jewelry. My mother didn't know that I was deflowered with my boyfriend. She thought that I was a virgin. She talked with a meebon to bring me to khui... They didn't know that I was khui haey. But after sleeping for the first time with a customer, I did not bleed. After this the meebon gave my mother only $50 to take back home."

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Cambodia: CHILD SEX SLAVERY (2of2)

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